As a career focused, hardworking 20-something banker in London, I thought nothing of the fact that I was pregnant and worked right up until 40 weeks. Yes, I literally finished a conference call with the CFO of EMEA as I popped into the maternity unit and had my baby. Up until that point, the thought of not returning to work was out of the question. Why wouldnâ€™t I want to go back to my well-paying, highly demanding job at RBS? Surely I could blackberry and breastfeed simultaneously? How hard could this baby stuff really be?
Well, rumour has it that having a baby is life-changing, and that I can now vouch for. The moment I returned home with a bundle in my arms, the thought of returning to work was not an option. It was out of the question. I didnâ€™t want to be away from my baby for even a micro-second.
Fake It Tilâ€™ You Make It – The Birth of Attipas Australia
Time went by and before I knew it, a year had passed. In that space we had moved back to Sydney, and I started thinking about returning to work.Â I had always loved working but the sad reality was I could not fathom returning to banking. That type of career does not cater well to the stay-at-home mum. It was at this point, as I was hanging washing on the line, the idea of Attipas Australia was born. A pair of shoes that I had casually purchased in Japan on a holiday had become the talk of the town. These shoe-socks, as I coined them, were unlike anything on the Australian market. Mothers were particularly in awe of how well my 14 month old was walking in them. I would start importing and selling those very shoes.
As a banker in London, I had little knowledge of the retail market aside from fluttering away my hard-earned cash on shoes during lunch time. But my career had taught me to be confident, perseverant, and most importantly, had given me that â€˜Fake it â€˜til you make itâ€™ attitude (a necessity when one is blonde in a male dominated industry). So I bit the bullet and emailed the manufacturer.
Within a day I had a response. No, they did not have an exclusive distributor for Australia as yet, and yes, they were interested in working with me so long as I could meet their buying criteria. A quick call to the bank and a few minor tweaks to some numbers, and I was certain we could do it.
Closing the Deal
Within a week, I had signed the exclusive distribution agreement, and we were up. Or so I thought. My to do list was now reading like a mini novel and not even close to the finale. A business plan, a business name, a bank account, shippers, a warehouse, a fulfilment centre. To name but a few. Sheer excitement kept the momentum going but I still had one very demanding one year old to look after. And that workload certainly wasnâ€™t lessoning.
Drawing upon my banking experience, I again discovered the key to success is outsourcing. And outsource I did. I outsourced babysitting to family, graphic design work to Pakistan and web development to India. I approached old colleagues to do photo shoots and friends for PR. I even had the local Australia Post team running around for me, knowing I was a local mum with a very small car and yet a very big business idea.
Time went by and I gradually I took the role of a â€˜mumpreneurâ€™ into my stride. It has been a hard slog, considering being a mum alone is difficult enough. On average I now work 6-8 hours a day, on top of minding a toddler. But with passion, enthusiasm, and a loving family, I have been able to achieve my dream. Our first batch of functional toddler shoes are currently being manufactured, and will be available online in September 2012.
I now wake up in the morning and am driven by passion, rather than caffeine, blackberry messenger and a daily rate. Life is good.
This post is courtesy of Caroline Africh. She is a banker-cum-mumpreneur who lives in Sydney, Australia, and is currently juggling work, life and a one year old. Having spent the last 10 years building a career as a Project Manager in London, Caroline decided to pursue passion over corporate after the birth of her son in 2011, and hence Attipas Australia was born (launches September 2012).Â